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Human rights groups call for arms embargo on South Sudan

30 organisations including Oxfam and Human Rights Watch have addressed a letter to the UN Security Council.

A South Sudanese man walks past UN peacekeepers on 17 September 2014 in Juba. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - Human rights groups are calling on the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan to stop attacks on civilians.

They say this will send a strong message that the international community will not enable fighters who have shown a complete disregard for the laws of war.

Thirty human rights groups, including Oxfam, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, said in a letter to the UN Security Council - effectively backing a request from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - to place an arms embargo on South Sudan and to ratchet up sanctions on individuals accused of hindering the peace process.

The letter points out that during five days of fighting between forces loyal to the president and the vice president, civilian neighbourhoods and UN compounds were shelled.

Ban says fighting in South Sudan has stopped for the time being but there's a real danger of it restarting.